Mother-tongue is a linguistic category that expresses origin, competence, and function (Collins, 2003; Kerneman, 2010). It became a theological category through the writings of Bediako (1995, 1999, 2000, 2006) who posits that the deep mother roots of large portions of African Christianity is an opportunity for shaping Christian theological discourse in Africa. Mother-tongue translations of the Bible are important theological interpretation documents.
Ekem defines mother-tongue biblical hermeneutics as “a discipline devoted to the interpretation and reinterpretation of biblical texts in languages considered by speakers as their first language into which they were born” (2011:10). He posits that, “The varied mother tongues of Africa have a lot to offer by way of biblical interpretation in Ghanaian/African languages as viable material for interpretation, study Bibles and commentaries” (Ekem, 2007:48); and that using the mother-tongue is likely to shape the future of Biblical Studies in Africa (Ekem, 2008, 188-89).
Mother-tongue biblical hermeneutics offers opportunities for scholars in Biblical Studies, Language Studies and Theological Studies to use their varied backgrounds to engage the translated Scriptures for the benefit of academia and mother tongue Bible readers.
The first issue of MOTBIT has five articles. Aryeh in his exegetical discussion of 1 Corinthians 13 in Gã argues that Bible translation must reflect contemporary terms and concepts in the cultural psychology of the reading community. His recommendation that Biblical Studies in Africa ought to include the study of indigenous languages and concepts is a build-up on what earlier scholars have said. Akaninga and Kuwornu-Adjaottor’s paper on the translation of the Greek name Ίησοûς Хριστός [Iēsous Kristos] in Kasem as Yezu Krista in the New Testament is insightful. If Kasem orthography has‘s’ and ‘o’, what prevented the translators from using those letters in the translation? Kuwornu-Adjaottor, Yankson and Aidoo’s article questions the translation of παραβολη (parabolee) as abe in the Synoptic Gospels of the Ga New Testament. They found out that (a proverb with a story) best translates παραβολη (parabolee) in Ga. Bayeti’s paper questions why the Talensi do not have the translated Bible in their mother-tongue even though there are many churches in Talensiland. He agues that if the Bible constitutes God’s self-disclosure for all humanity, then the Talensi have a legitimate right to have the Bible in their mother tongue. Defor’s article is a reading of Galatians 5 by Anlo Christians. The text deals with a situation of tension between two Christian groups in Galatia – the Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians was read; it was read and appropriated to the context of Anlo Christians, who annually clash with the traditional rulers in the period of the ban on drumming and general noise making during the ‘Hogbetsotso’ festival.
Enjoy your reading! Use the articles for further researches and by so doing you will be adding to knowledge in the disciplines of Mother Tongue Biblical Hermeneutics, Biblical Studies, Theology, Bible Translation Hermerneutics and Language Studies; whilst at the same time making the mother tongue translations of the Bible relevant for academia and Bible readers and users in indigenous communities.
Rev. Prof. Jonathan Edward Tetteh Kuwornu-Adjaottor (PhD)